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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 18:21 GMT
Lawyer struck off after BSE breaches
Cows
Thousands of animals were culled during the BSE crisis
A north Wales lawyer who misled authorities over the disposal of carcasses during the BSE crisis has been expelled from the legal profession.

Charles Clutton, who ran an incineration firm near Wrexham with his brother, appeared before the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal in London on Tuesday.


At the end of the day I'm afraid we have come to the conclusion that what happened here was serious

Anthony Isaacs, Tribunal Chairman

It followed a hearing at Chester Crown Court in April 2000, where Clutton pleaded guilty to six breaches of the Environmental Protection Act and was fined 9,000.

The tribunal was told how he had understated the number of animals his family's incineration company was burning to avoid strict guidelines imposed by the local council.

Clutton, a former partner in a Chester law firm, ran Clutton Agriculture Ltd with his brother Sam, which specialised in the burning of animal carcasses.

Council guidelines

During the BSE crisis, they used three incinerators to dispose of the animals culled under the government's 30-month scheme.

Under local council guidelines, the firm was supposed to burn 30 animals a day, but in reality the firm was exceeding the limit.

To get around the restriction the company made two sets of records, known as 'burn sheets'.

One document, showed the firm was complying with the order and was supplied to the relevant authorities.

However, another set of papers sent to the Intervention Board for payment showed the true number of carcasses being incinerated.


He has been extremely proud of being a solicitor and doing difficult jobs properly and professionally

Stuart Denney, defence barrister

On three occasions, Clutton had signed the misleading sheets.

On Tuesday, the Solicitors Disciplinary Panel was told that Clutton was "utterly horrified of being brought before you and he is ashamed".

Defence solicitor Stuart Denney said: "He has been extremely proud of being a solicitor and doing difficult jobs properly and professionally.

"He has worked long and hard to ensure that the firm retained and developed it's extremely good reputation."

Mr Denney said that Clutton's brother Sam had been responsible for the substantial running of the incineration firm.

On the three occasions Clutton had signed the forms to be submitted, his brother was away.

Expelled

He added that Clutton found himself in a 'difficult' situation in which the company at fault was run by his brother.

Mr Denney said: "They appear to have been cast in the role of villain by the local authority and subject to stringent conditions."

But the tribunal found against the lawyer and ordered him to be expelled from the profession.

Chairman Anthony Isaacs said the case had caused "a great deal of anxiety."

He added: "At the end of the day I'm afraid we have come to the conclusion that what happened here was serious.

"With considerable regret we have come to the conclusion that we must strike the respondent off the roll."


More news from north east Wales
See also:

26 Nov 00 | Wales
26 Oct 00 | Wales
17 Dec 99 | UK Politics
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